Cixin Liu

The Best Books of 2016

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The Best Books of 2016

2016 may not have been the best of years, but it saw the release of some amazing books. And since Elizabeth has been focusing more on her artwork these last few months (check out her Daily Doodles on instagram) this year I get to keep the entire “Best Of” list for myself, myself, you hear?! Mwa ha haaaa!

*Ahem* Sorry, got a little carried away there. Click the jump for a list, in no particular order, of my ten favorite books from 2016.

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Review – Death’s End

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Review – Death’s End

No banquet was eternal. Everything had an end. Everything.

The final book in Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past picks up where the second book left off. The Trisolaran army has been stopped, and humanity is now safe. Of course “safe” translates here to “holding off an attack from a technologically superior alien race by keeping one finger on the button of a doomsday device, forever.” I wonder how long humanity can keep that up.

This is it, the culmination of everything that Cixin Liu has been leading up to in the first two books. The Three Body Problem featured an alien civilization and theoretical physics. The Dark Forest involved political machinations and high-tech space battles. Death’s End goes beyond both of them and still manages to be like a fairytale. With physics. And politics. And space battles. And a shockingly high number of casualties. Read On

The Best Books of 2015

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The Best Books of 2015

Whelp, it’s that time of year again. Time to look back on fifty-two weeks of book reviews and decide which ones were our favorites. Not gonna lie here, this was a tough decision. Even when ruling out anything that was published before 2015, there were still more than a dozen books that fell into the “best” category, and picking just three apiece feels unfair to the ones that didn’t make it into the top three. The solution? A ton of honorable mentions and, wherever possible, cheat.

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Review: The Dark Forest

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Review: The Dark Forest

     The universe is a dark forest…

The second book in Cixin Liu’s “Three Body” trilogy picks up right where the first one left off, with the Trisolaran fleet making its way to Earth to wipe out humanity. The sophons – undetectable Trisolaran multi-dimensional computers surrounding the planet – have permanently sabotaged all high-energy physics experiments, guaranteeing that Earth’s technology will never progress to the level of Trisolaris. Earth now has the impossible job of trying to defeat an unbeatable enemy that won’t even arrive for four centuries. And the sophons can see everything that happens on Earth, meaning the Trisolarans and their human collaborators will know humanity’s defense strategies almost as soon as they’re created.

Almost. There’s still one kind of plan that can be kept a secret from the invaders: a plan that doesn’t even exist except in the mind of the person who creates it.  Read On

Review: The Three-Body Problem

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Review: The Three-Body Problem

Ye opened the resulting document, and, for the first time, a human read a message from another world.

The content was not what anyone had imagined. It was a warning repeated three times.

Do not answer!

Do not answer!!

Do not answer!!!

The term “Hard Science Fiction” refers to any story where the science used is more than just a futuristic setting or a MacGuffin for the characters to chase after. Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Scott Westerfeld’s The Risen Empire are two examples of this genre; the reader has to be able to grasp at least a little bit of concepts like man-made worlds or artificial intelligence in order to keep up. The way technology in these stories affects the main characters, or an entire civilization, is essential to the plot.

In Cixin Liu’s newly-translated masterpiece The Three-Body Problem, the story begins in the Chinese Cultural Revolution and ends in the present day with humanity’s realization that a war with an alien species scheduled to start in four centuries may already be lost.  It’s hard science fiction, and the science that the reader is expected to understand is theoretical physics. Brace yourselves, this one gets really deep.

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